Monday, July 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday 228: The Bell Jar

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

I started The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath over the weekend for another classic group read. I wasn't planning on reading this one, then happened across a used copy in fairly good condition for less than a dollar. Here's a snippet from early in the book:

There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room.

It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction—every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and that excitement at about a million miles an hour.

(Chapter two)


Plath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

SC496 Cards

I spent some time this weekend making cards, as my supply has grown quite small. I used the SCS sketch challenge from a couple weeks ago, SC496, which works quite well for using up various scraps of paper and cardstock.

STAMPS: Set Sail, Winds of Grace (both retired sets from Stampin' Up)
PAPER: Darice, DCWV, Hot Off the Press, Recollections
INK: Basic Black
ACCESSORIES: Marvy punches, ribbon, dimensionals

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skywatch Friday 67

Seen while driving home past the county fairgrounds one night last week . . .

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 343: A Walk in the Arboretum No. 2

Back on June 19, I shared some of the many photos taken during a spring day spent at the Arboretum in A Walk in the Arboretum No. 1. After wandering the woods and visiting some of the wetlands, I ended the day in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens. Longenecker is a 50-acre area north of the Visitor Center that features trees, shrubs and vines of Wisconsin. With the long, hard winter and cold spring, everything was flowering late this year, but I did find some rhododendron, magnolia and a few others in bloom.

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 141: Butterfly and Coneflowers

Tiger Swallowtail with Purple Coneflowers

WORDPRESS USERS: Lately, many Non-WP bloggers' comments are being labeled as spam on WP blogs. Please check your junk bins for misrouted comments. Thank you!


Wordless Wednesday

Create With Joy

Teaser Tuesday 227: Mr. Monk Gets on Board

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

This week I am sharing a teaser from a book I am about to start, Mr. Monk Gets on Board by Hy Conrad.

Oh, and Wordpress users? Your evil blog platform still insists on filing my comments as spam. Please do me the favor of fishing me out of the junk bin -- and if you know of any way to get them to STOP labeling me as spam, please let me know. Thank you!

The last thing I saw was my junior partner crossing to the library window, his gaze focused on a tiny white scrap of something on the parquet floor right under it. “Pick that up,” he ordered Devlin, who snarled — literally snarled — then bent down to pick it up.

(Chapter 2)

Genre: Cozy mystery
Series: Mr. Monk #17

Welcome to the series of original mysteries starring Adrian Monk, the brilliant investigator who always knows when something’s out of place . . . .

Of all the things that make Adrian Monk uneasy, change ranks high on the list. So when Natalie completes her P.I. license—and technically becomes Monk’s boss—it’s not easy for him to accept. Nor can he accept Natalie attending a business seminar at sea without him, even if it means spending a week with her on a cruise ship.

Between choppy waters and obnoxious kids, Monk finds himself in a perfect storm of anxiety. Luckily, Mariah, the cruise director, is always able to smooth things over . . . until the crew fishes her dead body out of the water.

Even after the ship’s doctor declares Mariah’s death an accident, Monk isn’t convinced. So when the captain hires Monk and Natalie to look into a mysterious rash of vandalism on board, Monk steers the investigation toward murder . . . .

* NOTE: A copy of this book was received from the publisher through a blog contest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Word Crimes

Just found this through Pinterest and had to share. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Skywatch Friday 66

Monday afternoon, I decided to walk home through Grady Tract at the UW Arboretum (in one entrance and out the other). When I got there, there were a lot of clouds, but the sky wsa blue and it did not look like rain. In fact, when I checked the radar before leaving work, it looked like all the showers were going north of us. You know where this is going, right?

I stopped briefly in the parking lot to layer on the bug spray (a necessity this time of year), then headed inside. The trails to the West Knoll were tranquil despite the not-so-distant noise of rush hour traffic. Once up on the Knoll, however, you can see how fast the sky started to change.

Main trail through a wooded section of the Arboretum

Rain clouds on the horizon . . .

Look in one direction, nothing but blue skies and a few wispy clouds. Look in the other . . . nothing but large rain clouds. I was a little worried when I looked straight up at one point and saw gray clouds converging, with only that little patch of blue in the middle. But I felt not a single drop of rain as I followed the narrow path across the Knoll.

Grady Knoll -- you can see sage, a few yellow primrose and sumac here.

Gray clouds converge . . .

. . . but quickly pass overhead without shedding a drop of rain.

Coming down, however, was another story. I'd no sooner reached the bottom of the hill, and was crossing the main trail for the entrance to Greene Prairie, when it began to rain. It wasn't heavy, and it was fast-moving. Being only a light shower with no thunder or lightning, I wasn't worried. I found a nice large oak beside the path and waited it out before entering Greene Prairie (after I had reapplied bug spray, of course).

Grady Knoll: Yellow primrose, purple lead-plant, sage.

The skies clear over Greene Prairie

There is a saying at the Arboretum that if you come back every two weeks, you'll see something new. Sometimes all it takes is a day or two, as I saw stuff blooming on Monday that was not in bloom over the weekend. You can see that the boardwalk is only a little wet. I had made it to the middle of the prairie where the path forks north and south when I noticed the sky was closing in again.

Notice how the prairie boardwalk only looks wet on one side

The prairie path is overshadowed by another approaching shower . . .

That decided me against taking the longer, more meandering (southerly) path out. I turned around and followed the boardwalk back out to the main trail. Looking eastward through the trees you could still see blue sky. Looking west as I skirted the east edge of Greene Prairie, however, I could see that the storm was gaining on me.

Uh-oh . . . I think I'm in trouble.

The rain started again as I cleared the southeast entrance -- not heavy, but I could tell a downpour was imminent. I literally ran from the exit to the start of the bike path, and had just made it to the pitiful excuse of a shelter there before it let loose. Standing on the lee side -- the side behind the bench, I was able to wait out the rain without getting soaked. As before, it was fast-moving, and after about 15 or 20 minutes I was on my way.

My shelter in the storm

I was rewarded for my little adventure on the walk home with a fleeting rainbow. If I had not looked up at the precise moment I did, I would have missed it. And then there were blue skies, sunshine and a few large white clouds the rest of the walk home.

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 342: An (Un)guided Walk

Sunday, Jul 13, 2014

Pisces Daily Horoscope
You shouldn't try to go it alone today — things are too complicated for that. Teamwork is easier to make work than usual, even if your people are recalcitrant or tied up with internal conflict.

This is kind of funny, considering the guided walk that wasn't. I don't know about recalcitrant or internal conflict, but teamwork was certainly the word of the day Sunday afternoon, when I decided to go on the guided walk at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum. I like to go on these occasionally to refresh my memory and learn about new-to-me plants.

I was fifteen minutes early, with others arriving soon after. By ten past the hour, a naturalist had yet to show, which is unusual as they're usually one of the first to arrive. By quarter after, someone suggested we go on our own, seeing as it was a small group. One couple had never been, another couple had not been there in three years except to ski, and the rest of us have been on the guided walks many times before. Naturally, the one weekend when a naturalist fails to show, all of us who own the UW Prairie Plants book . . . leave our books at home. In fact, I had been looking up something in mine just prior to walking up there. Figures, right?

So, about twenty minutes after the walk was to begin, our small group set off through the woods — stopping maybe once, as opposed to the half dozen times we would have stopped with a guide. We pointed out what we saw as we walked, such as the glacial kettle hole and the narrow trail crossing it choked by poison ivy (being a natural species, they do not eradicate poison ivy).

Our destinations were Grady Knoll and Greene Prairie. Three weeks ago, the knoll was blanketed in pink goat's-rue. The predominate color now is purple, as both lead plant and wild bergamot are in full bloom — and there is a plethora of both. There is also the occasional orange of butterfly-weed, the silver of sage, and the yellow of black-eyed susans and a few late-blooming puccoons. There was another yellow flower on the verge of blooming, the name of which none of us could remember. I kept wanting to say foxglove, as I know it also grows on Grady Knoll in summer, but that did not seem right. The name was on the tip of my tongue all afternoon. Naturally, it came to me as soon as I got home — primrose. Sigh.

My camera battery started indicating low battery on my walk up there, and while I was hoping it would make it through the day, it held out until we reached Greene Prairie. Which prompted my return Monday after work, to photograph what I'd missed the day before, before it disappeared. There is a saying here that if you return every two weeks, you'll see something different. Similarly, what is blooming today may not be there tomorrow, or a week later.

Two weeks ago the prairie was awash in white, as tall beard-tongue and indigo were in bloom. There is still some indigo, but beard-tongue has almost completely died out. Now, wild bergamot and lead-plant are as prolific here as up on the knoll, with gay-feathers also on the verge of blooming. There is also a riot of yellow coreopsis and St. John's Wort. We also saw mountain mint, blue vervain, rattle snake master, prairie dock, a few compass plants (they have not done as well this year — apparently they like dryer conditions than we have seen), culver's root, spreading dogbane, goldenrod and many other familiar plants.

As we wandered through Greene Prairie, we made quite a find — a rare prairie white fringed orchid. Take that, naturalist who failed to show up! We backtracked a bit to see if there were others, but did not see any. Doesn't mean they aren't there, just that they are not visible from the trail. One member of our group whipped out his phone, took a photo of it and emailed it to a couple of Arboretum naturalists he knew. These orchids are an endangered species, so they will want to document it.

Returning to the main entrance, we discovered a young mulberry tree in among the Evjue Pines that I don't recall seeing before. Not far past it, I found a small patch of Deadly Nightshade. Although the book says it grows throughout the Arboretum, this was the first time I've actually seen it inside the Arb, though I have seen plenty along the nearby bike path. And yes, it really is poisonous.

Here are a few of the many flowering plants seen on our self-guided walk, or on my return visit Monday afternoon.

Dotted Horsemint — I actually saw this Monday evening,
when I took a different route to the Knoll.

Bouncing Bet — seen by the Dotted Horsemint


Black-Eyed Susan


Common Yarrow is distinuishable by its feathery green leaves

Blue Vervain

Primrose, photographed Monday — had they been in bloom on Sunday,
I might have come up with the name as soon as we saw them.

Prairie White Fringe Orchid — a Wisconsin Endangered and
Federally Threatened Species

Common St. John's-Wort

A pair of Sandhill Cranes has taken up residence on Greene Prairie

Rain-kissed Phlox — taken on Monday's return trip, after a brief rain shower

Mountain Mint

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen